From Lagos to the world, Nigerian pop giants are shutting down arenas globally

The impact of Nigerian music comes to fore as superstars Davido and Wizkid sell out 10,000 and 20,000 arenas in South America and Europe.

Across a variety of genres, mainly down to pop and Afrobeats, Nigerian music is taking giant steps in becoming the supreme leader of modern music, not just in Africa but globally.

This is 2018 and what seemed unattainable barely a decade ago is happening right before our eyes inspired by the leaders of the new movement, Davido and Wizkid.

Just over a week ago, Davido was celebrated for his recent feat where he performed before a crowd of 10,000 in Paramaribo, Suriname, South America.

For many Nigerians, this was their first time of discovering the existence of the country, while few who follow sports could have stumbled on them during the opening ceremony of an Olympic event.

Again to properly factor how immense this is, Suriname is a sovereign state in South America, with a population of slightly over half a million and their official languages being Dutch and Sranan, an English based creole language.

The singer who was recently crowned Artist of the year at the 2018 Headies has successfully held tours across Africa, America and mainstream Europe, but nothing comes close to having your music known and generate much buzz in a remote South American city and even Davido confessed his surprise at the phenomenom.

As if, to reinforce the fact that Nigerian music is indeed global, on Saturday, May 26, Davido's former 'archenemy' and now bestie, Wizkid made double history under a year by becoming the first African artist to headline a concert, selling out the 20,000 capacity iconic O2 arena, after he sold out the 5,000 Royal Albert Hall, late last year.

For context, the O2 Arena holds the second highest capacity of any indoor venue in the United Kingdom, second only to the Manchester Arena that seats 21,000 and was billed to host the return of Michael Jackson after a 12-year hiatus for his ''This is it concert'' 50 series just before his death, and has welcomed superstars like Beyonce, Rihanna, Elton John and Britney Spears.

From dominating music charts, featuring on Drake's Grammy nominated album, Views, with the single One dance, having his cross over album Sounds From The Other Side (SFTOS) feature on the Billboards Hot 200 list after its release, Wizkid has evolved into the global brand whose influence has grown wings beyond the African shores.

His recent feat at the O2 arena which sees him gravitate further into a pop icon speaks volumes not limited to his standing in the industry, but the ascendancy Nigerian music enjoys across the world.

Other Nigerian artists selling out worldwide

Talented singer, Yemi Alade alongside her Ovasabi band recently concluded the European leg of her Black Magic tour with a sold out concert in Netherlands.

She has also successfully held concerts across London, France, Sweden, Italy, Finland and Spain over the last one year with a strong presence in the francophone speaking countries of Africa.

The likes of Mr Eazi has also performed in places like Martinique, Haiti and shared a stage with Jay Z, Cardi B and Chris Brown at the Tidal Charity concert held in Brooklyn, USA last year.

Dancehall act, Timaya has had several shows in Barbados, Patoranking has rocked the stage in Guadeloupe, while Olamide recently had his accomplishedLive in Concert Dallas show.

The music is no longer limited to Africa or central Europe as outside the regular lines, Nigerian artistes are penetrating into previously uncharted waters with the follower-ship ever increasing.

The growth of Nigerian music globally

Slightly over a decade ago, the closest our artistes got to perform outside the continent was at Nigerian hosted shows like the Independence day concert traditionally held in UK and organised by the duo of DJ Abass and Ayo Shonaiya.

This was at a time when the likes of 2face Idibia, P Square and D banj were emerging as a new generation of pop stars, and it was a moment to treasure for those chosen to perform at this event that usually had in attendance only Nigerians in the disapora.

The coming of the Internet provided an avenue for artistes to put their songs online through various channels like YouTube, which exposed the music to a global audience. As the audience grew, our acts got invited for concerts and tours beyond the shores of Nigeria.

But the 'supposed tours' were largely club concerts or hangout events in places like Malaysia or mainstream Europe organized by Nigerians resident there and attended only by Nigerians and Africans who sought connection with happenings back home.

For many years, this was the trend, and even though events like this earned the artist bragging rights, it wasn't exactly doing much for their brand or expanding their music to the international mainstream.

The Oliver Twist moment

Pop star D'banj has a lot to do with the rise of Nigerian music internationally. At the height of his career circa 2010, D'banj dared to be more. He wanted to take his music beyond the shores of Nigeria and Africa. In 2011, he featured Snoop Dogg on the remix of the single 'Mr Endowed'.

The same year he hooked up with Hip Hop icon Kanye West which eventually led to him being a member of the G.O.O.D Music collective.

Late 2011, D'banj would go ahead and release the most important song of his career 'Oliver Twist'. Released in the UK in May 2012, the song grew to be an international hit. The monster track was played during the Summer Olympics in London and spawned countless covers from acts such as Estelle and Pitbull.

If Nigerian music had been simmering underneath for years, D'banj's killer track helped it blow to the mainstream. The explosion of the catchy and funny song crafted by Don Jazzy was synonymous to the rise of Afrobeats in England.

A sound which is an adaptation of modern day pop sound with a sprinkle of Fela Kuti's Afrobeat has gained acceptance across the world and brought to light the new generation of young talents from Nigeria.

Nigerian music did not just get to this point overnight, neither did it happen accidentally and the recent ground breaking feats is a product of a vibrant pop scene that has been constantly refined, altered and well tailored creating a bubble even when there was no idea of when or where it will burst.

And as the barriers began to fall, so also did international labels begin to search for breaking the next big artist from the continent leading to deals from Sony Music/RCA for artistes like Ayo Jay, Davido and later on Wizkid, with Tiwa Savage also signing with Roc Nation.

What is the future?

In a 2012 interview with CNN, DJ Abrantee identified Wizkid as one of the artists that will take the genre to the next level, ''Wizkid is without a shadow of doubt on the verge of a worldwide explosion''.

Six years down the line, the Starboy is fulfilling prophecy as the young boy of 2012 has become a giant in 2018.

What was once a dream is now a reality for Nigerian artists with each passing day. Selling out a 10,000 arena in Suriname and 20,000 at the O2 arena is the stuff of musical legends and two acts who started from home have made it happen.

Their work ethic and artistic placement during this period is finally yielding benefits, but while this deserves all the praises being given to it, sustaining and solidifying the gains is the future.

Nigerian artistes should push their market and promotion to places beyond the regular mainstream Europe or America, especially exploring the window opened in the Caribbean cities where dance music is an ever treasured currency.

There should also be intentional and well co-ordinated tours within Nigeria to strengthen the individual fanbase as events have shown that only artistes with a loyal following at home have been able to translate their numbers to success outside.

Structure is also very important and preexisting music venues not limited to Lagos will allow for every sector to tap in the power that the music offers and booster a thriving scene that will continue to attract experts and investors.

Building on very little, Davido and Wizkid have taken significant steps in sealing their legacy globally, inspiring others to dream and opening the doors to a new generation of acts that it can be achieved right from home.

The duo have opened a discourse that explores on the power of good music and how combined with creative marketing, its reach will break boundaries farther than envisioned and for all of this, it is right that the influence Nigerian music holds today is discussed and celebrated.


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